Wolverhampton Wanderers manager Mick McCarthy has warned his squad to prepare for some dogfights as they enter the busy festive football schedule whilst also warning the fans it won’t always be pretty.

McCarthy’s side had to slug out against a tough 1-0 victory over lowly Doncaster Rovers at the weekend, running out eventual winners thanks to a late Neill Collins’ headed goal.

He believes there will be many more of those type of nail-biting games during the second half of the season.

He said: “I don’t think teams are going to let us play to our maximum. I think Doncaster found a bit extra on Saturday because they are playing a team on top of the league and we had to find something else to try to win the game.

“It’s not always going to be pretty and silky and full of good football. Games can be like that and it takes a while to get going. You have to fight the fight first and scrap it out to get a foothold in the game and then try to go on and win it. You’ve just got to win games however you can.”

Wolves are comfortably seven points clear at the top of the Coca-Cola Championship table with nearest rivals Birmingham City slipping up to a 3-1 defeat to Reading, another strong contender for promotion.

But McCarthy knows the battle is far from won and that free-scoring Wolves will not always have their own way.

He said: “We’ve had a wide range of different performances both from the opposition and from us. When we started off with games and goals in threes and fours and fives, I knew that would never continue and it was going to be more like the Doncaster game on Saturday.”

McCarthy continues to refuse to get carried away with his side’s lofty perch.

He said: “Of course this is a great position to be in but there’s still 22 games to go and 66 points to play for.”